Gill Button’s Portraits Stare Back at You

There’s something teasing, almost dauntingly teasing, about Gill Button’s portraits. Using fluid brushstrokes in either oil or ink, her subjects gaze straight ahead, staring at the viewer who dares look at them.

According to Button, this intimacy created between object and subject is very much intentional. “I like my subjects to have a relationship, firstly with me and then with other people,” she relayed in an interview with Metal Magazine, “so most of my characters are looking right at you, demanding you engage with them.”

In fact, Button’s creative process begins with her subjects’ eyes. “I always start with the eyes, if I’m not happy with how they are looking there is no point for me carrying on – I’ll wipe the canvas and start again!” she relayed.

Based in London, Button studied at Maidstone College of Art and later completed a Bachelor of Arts in Illustration at Kingston University London. Her clients now include some top tier publications, news outlets, and brands such as BBC, Wolf Ollins, Vanity Fair, Tatler, The Times, Gallimard, and Gucci; and her work has been exhibited in the Fashion Illustration Gallery, Less is More Projects, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and Coningsby gallery.

“When I reflect on the exhibitions, commissions and experiences I’ve had recently, most of it tracks back to Instagram,” she explains. “It’s been a hugely important aspect of my career lately, and through it I have met so many wonderful artists and made some absolutely amazing contacts on an international level that would simply have been out of reach before social media.”

You’d want to join in the hype.